A columnist writing for a business website said the fact that the ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration permits was announced so quickly – and with seemingly so little research – should worry us all.
Jenée Tibshraeny said the concept of “think globally, act locally is a phrase that that can be applied to the environmental movement. It implies that people in different communities should do what they can to contribute towards a greater cause.
For those with the ability to do so, she said, this might mean opting for an electric car or choosing to buy products that have been sustainably made. For those in less privileged positions, this might simply mean putting more effort into recycling.
Tibshraeny said on the Interest website the Government appears to believe that by deciding not to issue new offshore oil and gas exploration permits takes in that thinking. It is essentially saying, ‘Look world, we are taking the lead on a global issue that needs decisive action’. The aspiration in this is energising and invokes ‘proud Kiwi’ feelings.
“The problem is, I am not convinced the Government is in fact ‘acting locally’ and considering the situation New Zealand is in as it seeks to solve a global problem. It appears to be ‘thinking globally, acting globally’.
She said the Government in making this decision has failed to take the public with it, as it has made a major decision about our future.
The government has been open about prioritising environmental issues, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern campaigning on climate change being her generation’s “nuclear free moment”. But, the columnist said, it hasn’t actually put forward a convincing, facts-based case explaining where NZ will get its energy from in 10 years’ time when our current gas reserves are depleted.
It hasn’t said: “14% of NZ’s energy needs are met by gas. We currently produce all the gas we use. We project that by 2025, X% of this energy will come from energy sources A, B, C, and by 2030, X% will come from energy sources A, B, C and D.
“We are creating these incentives to help clean energy companies ramp up production. We are working on initiatives with Clean Energy Company X and Clean Energy Company Y. We are putting these measure in place to ensure that during the transition energy costs in New Zealand won’t soar.
“We aren’t pulling the rug out from beneath Methanex and the other manufacturers heavily reliant on gas, as we are confident they have future-proofed their businesses.
We can categorically say we won’t need to spend tens of billions of dollars to build the infrastructure necessary to import gas (which is likely to be more expensive) when we realise we have a fuel shortage.
Well, all that creates more questions and potential problems.
Tibshraeny said 46% of the country’s energy needs come from oil.
“We import all the oil we use. We export all the oil we produce as it is good quality and therefore worth more. By 2030 we will have the infrastructure in place to service a vehicle fleet that is X% electric.
“We project that the price of electric cars and trucks will fall by X%. If they don’t, we will subsidise them. We plan to invest $X in electric rail.
“There is no point cutting our oil supply, if our demand stays the same.”
The columnist said looking at the bigger picture, the problem with the Government making a relatively abrupt announcement on oil and gas exploration is that it makes NZ look unstable to oil and gas investors.
“We can assume the government doesn’t care, as it doesn’t want them here anyway. But what if it turns out we can’t substitute all our gas use with alternate energy sources, at a reasonable cost?”
Sources: thespinoff.co.nz; interest.co.nz